Original post written 27April14. Posted this to an old blog site of mine. Felt it was share worthy over here.
I’ve often felt something missing from me now that my deployments overseas to combat zones are over. This hits a lot of veterans pretty hard. On deployment we are connected at the hip to our brothers-in-arms, 24/7. When we get home or get out we go our separate ways. We often find it difficult to plug ourselves back into society. This is because we are a small percentage of the American population. Only a few people, if any, in our circles understand us and what we’ve been through. When we cross paths with another veteran, we gravitate towards them as we share stories (or good lies) and reflect back on our experiences.
I tend to be a bit of a hermit. I go to the gym to teach or train, stay home and go to church. That’s about it. I’m not a socialite. Quite honestly, I just have a hard time plugging into society, by choice. I’m not crazy. The way I see the world is just different from others. I’ll admit that I live in a world of vigilance. I always check my mirrors when I drive and “check 6” as I walk through parking lots as if I’m on a dismounted patrol. I keep 550 Cord, 100mph tape, a Go Bag and many other goodies in my truck. “They” say that “Brotherhood is founded on agony and laughter”. I completely agree with this. Enter CrossFit. When the water is deep and you have to keep moving forward, you can always look left and right to see your teammates suffering with you. You’re never alone. This past weekend I felt that the most for the first time at a CrossFit competition. I’ve always said that I could really care less about competing to be the best at exercising. It’s more than that. It’s brotherhood/community building. This was my first CrossFit competition. I knew going into it that my knee would be an anchor but injuries have never stopped me from moving forward. You keep moving or die. Am I hurting today? YEP! But it was worth it. The juice was worth the squeeze. Why? Because I was able to go into combat with one of my Privates. I know, Army analogy, but that’s the way I felt. Back in January a young gal decided to start CrossFit. She completed our intro class and dove, head first, into CrossFit. I noticed from the git-go that she was “trainable”. I liked that. The beginning of February she mentioned that she would like to enter this particular competition but didn’t think anyone would want to partner with her since she was new. My ears perked up. I told her, “I’ll do it”. I wasn’t planning to win the war but was determined to win the battle and come home alive. I committed to not leave her behind in any event and to continuously watch her and mentor her as she engaged the enemy in her sectors of fire. I finished the 5K run, painfully, before her but my job was not over. I jogged back to find her and guide and motivate her to the finish line. She set a personal record on that run. We continued to battle it out the rest of the day. We endured cold and rainy then hot and sunny all in 12 hours. I truly had the time of my life. I felt alive again. I saw her glowing with a sense of self pride and accomplishment. That made me feel like I had done my job. As a leader I strive to provide Purpose, Direction and Motivation to my soldiers, my people, our members. At the end of the day we wiped the sweat from our brows, returned to the arms of our loved ones and traveled home. We had won the battle.
The war against death still rages. Always fighting off the enemies of disease, cancer, weakness (physical and mental). We’ll continue to fight those individual battles and we will win every time. This is why I feel CrossFit is the perfect drug for veterans. We are given the opportunity to feel the rush of adversity, given the opportunity to accept defeat or victory. Some laughed, some cried, some bled and every broke a sweat. This is the closest thing to combat any civilian can engage in- minus the explosions, gunfire and death. I will never forget that day. It has given me a new perspective and has given me a broader outlook and appreciation towards our civilian counterparts.
I “Ain’t Dead Yet”